Opinion: What we can expect from Fnatic and SK Gaming following their roleswap
Fnatic and SK Gaming have made the risky decision to transition their respective players to the jungler role. What lead the teams to this decision and what can we expect from the players?
Roleswaps are undoubtedly the most drastic internal change a team can make, and recent success has only embolden rosters. Both Luka “Perkz” Perkovic and Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao are positive examples of how skilled players can excel at multiple roles. Following a positional change in their key players, G2 and RNG both found similar international success. These are simply the highlights however, as not all roleswaps are destined to yield positive results.
Two jungle swaps in #LEC for Summer
When I think of jungle roleswaps, I think about Ambition, Score, Clearlove (and Caedrel in EU)
How about you ? 😊
— Laure Valée (@LaureBuliiV) May 29, 2021
Fnatic and SK Gaming are the latest teams to take the plunge of a roleswap. Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau and Erik “Treatz” Wessen have both elected to swap to the jungle. Jungler is an exceedingly difficult role to swap to, with only the likes of Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong notably finding greater success in this ‘new’ position. These players have proven to be among the best in the LEC in their respective roles, but what can we expect in their new roles?
The two types of roleswaps
Roleswaps occur out of two situations, necessity and opportunity. The previously mentioned cases of Perkz and Xiaohu were roleswaps of opportunity, as their ‘sacrifice’ in switching off their primary role allowed the team to evolve. In Perkz’s case, G2 acquired Rasmus “Caps” Winter, and similarly for Xiaohu going top let RNG sign Yuan “Cryin” Cheng-Wei. Both of these additions played were just as vital to their team’s future success as the roleswapped player’s acclimation to their new position.
Both Bwipo and Treatz’s roleswap is happening out of necessity. Details released by Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek and other sources have alleged that Bwipo was given an ultimatum. Switching to jungle allowed Bwipo to remain on Fnatic. Treatz’s roleswap occurred in perhaps more dire circumstances. Historically, roleswaps made to bring in proven or promising talent have thrived. Bwipo and Treatz will certainly be interesting case studies once we see them in action, but what can we glean from their previous position?
Bwipo – Aggression that could be cut short by meta shifts
For much of his early professional career, Bwipo fought an uphill battle for starting position on Fnatic. Once again Bwipo will have to prove himself to remain on the roster, but is clear that the toplaner has the drive. Looking at his performance from the 2021 LEC Spring regular season, Bwipo does show promise in the role.
I wouldn't have committed to such a change if the whole team wasn't behind the decision.
I spoke with everyone individually, and all staff and players involved agreed that we could – and will make it work.
— Bwipo (@Bwipo) May 26, 2021
Bwipo is a notoriously aggressive toplaner. While Fnatic all around coined an overly aggressive style, Bwipo topped the kill share among toplaners (22.8) but simultaneously yielded the worst KDA (2.4). By virtue of being in-lane, aggressive solo laners are incredibly punishable. As a jungler, Bwipo’s aggression could give him invaluable impact over the lanes when on gank heavy champions.
Unfortunately for Bwipo, the jungle meta shift is slowly phasing out these types of champions. During MSI, once dominant champions with immeasurable lane impact such as Hecarim saw terrible results and few games. If Bwipo maintains his high octane, kill centric playstyle, he could fail to mesh with the emerging meta. As the viable pool of aggressive junglers continues to shrink, Udyr being the most recent victim of nerfs, Bwipo may struggle to keep up.
Treatz – A roster shakeup that could send waves
Formerly of TSM, Treatz was an integral role of SK Gaming’s bottom lane that made SK a dark horse throughout the Spring Split. Treatz most notably found success on his unique Jarvin support pick, which many supports attempted but failed to emulate his success.
More important however is Treatz’s impact in skirmishes. Treatz’s found the highest KP out of any support during the regular season (82.4%). Where Treatz stands to improve as a jungler is his warding, as he posts rather low wards place per minute (1.48) and cleared (0.27) for his role. Vision control will only grow more important as Treatz will have to contend for priority over neutral objectives.
Today we are announcing a few changes to our #LEC Roster for the 2021 Summer Split.
— SK Gaming (@SKGaming) May 29, 2021
Perhaps the most detrimental factor to Treatz’s success as a jungler are the circumstances this roleswap is coming out of. Kristin “Tynx” Ostergaard’s sudden benching mere days before the start of the split undoubtedly threw a wrench in SK’s season. Jungle/support synergy is incredibly important, and the person filling Treatz’s old role could play more of a factor than Treatz’s actual roleswap.
Jesse “Jesiz” Le, former Fnatic support and SK’s head coach until a few days ago, will reprise his careers as a player. Acting as a head coach since 2018, Jesiz clearly has maintained a firm grasp of LoL, however this does not translate directly into mechanical prowess. A failure to synergize botlane could send shockwaves throughout the map that limits how successful Treatz can be. Though Treatz could be an incredible jungler, his performance is contingent not only himself but how his teammates react to this sudden change.
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Image Credit: Riot Games (Michal Konkel)